Who Hunts the Whale

By Laura Kate Dale and Jane Aerith Magnet

A satirical novel set in the exploitative world of big-budget game development

Fiction | Gaming
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Who Hunts The Whale? is a completely fictional, entirely made-up novel set in the imaginary world of the video gaming industry. Written with a gamer’s wit and an insider’s precision, it holds the real-world business up to a carnival house of mirrors, to give a satirical look at the human cost of a rapacious market that must constantly be fed new content.

In the novel, Supremacy Software is the world’s largest videogame developer and publisher. If you’ve played games, you’ve played one of theirs at some point. They’re the shining light, a dream job for many aspiring game developers. Who Hunts The Whale? tells the story of a newly hired PA, taking a seat in the executive boardroom. An out-of-towner who risked it all to come to the big city and live her dream of working for a company she’s idolised for years.

Growing up playing some of the company’s biggest titles, she’s excited to be right there, where multi-million dollar decisions are made on a whim, hearing the new ideas first (yeah, suck it xXStabbyCat42069Xx, you don’t know it all), with the potential for life-changing bonuses for those who join the Supremacy Software family.

However, it’s not all sunshine and lollipops, as she soon discovers the much more cynical side of things. Stolen ideas, long hours, managerial impropriety, paintball, company barbecues, and enough Crimson Method Energy Gel to fill several swimming pools.

When faced with the grimy reality of how the sausage is made, she’ll have to wrestle with her conscience over whether to risk her dream career and take a stand for those who dare not speak, or keep quiet in the face of a powerful corporation whose legal team is always staring at her, wherever she goes.

Fans of Douglas Coupland’s Microserfs, David Eggers’ The Circle or Juno Dawson’s Meat Market will love this millennials' tale of one small person’s experiences inside the belly of a tech giant.

Laura Kate Dale is a videogame journalist who has been in the industry for seven years and has seen its ugliness from every angle. Jane Aerith Magnet is named after a Final Fantasy character and first got into computing by teaching her Commodore 64 to have conversations, way back in the 1980s.

ABOUT THE BOOK

  • A high-quality, B-format paperback book
  • Approximately 256 pages and 50,000 words
  • By the author of Gender Euphoria and Things I Learned from Mario's Butt
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*Book designs, cover and other images are for illustrative purposes and may differ from final design.

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  • Laura Kate Dale avatar

    Laura Kate Dale

    Jane Magnet avatar

    Jane Magnet

    Laura Kate Dale has worked as a full-time video game critic for the past seven years, writing for Polygon, IGN, Kotaku UK, Destructoid and a whole bunch of other outlets. Her previous published books include Gender Euphoria, an anthology of positive, real-world stories from trans writers, and an illustrated coffee table book called Things I Learned From Mario's Butt, about the educational value of assessing video game characters' buttocks.

    Jane Aerith Magnet is a former stand-up comedian who now writes board game reviews as a means to justify an obscene and growing collection. Through a series of bizarre events she’s been a cleaner, an accountant, a fast-food worker, a sex worker, an in-patient and a highly depressed retail store manager who made less than minimum wage, to name but a few roles. She currently co-hosts Queer & Pleasant Strangers with Laura and occasionally dreams of swimming in a pool full of glitter, slime, and tentacles.

  • January 3rd

    It’s early January, and I’m finally starting my new job as a Personal Assistant for the executive team at Supremacy Software, my all-time favourite video game developer. I grew up playing their annual video game releases, dreaming of the day I could in some small way be a part of helping bring their video games into the world.

    According to the laminated job bible I was handed when I got to the office today, I'm to take extensive notes on Executive meetings and to always ensure that the drinks order chart is kept up to date.

    Hell of a first day greeting: "Welcome aboard, here's your little office, read the manual, don't mess up, don't ask questions". Luckily, the manual is incredibly thorough. There's even a section for what to do if there are body fluids on the boardroom carpet. The reason for which I do not wish to have clarified.

    All that aside, I'm finally starting my dream job. Ever since I was little - playing games on a console my aunt donated when she got an upgrade - I've loved Supremacy Software games. Back then, they were just Cupboard Software, but they're the best, and they acquire the best. Which means that I've been deemed good enough to be amongst the best.

    I'm not a coder, I'm not an artist or a musician, but I am now part of the great Supremaqcy family. I'm part of the family that makes the games I love. Right there, in the boardroom where the big decisions get made.

    I love games. Games are my life. I don't just play, I watch documentaries, I devour news articles, I follow the industry. I've even snuck into press events to get a peek at the next big release - it's amazing where you can get into with a high-visibility jacket, a homemade lanyard ID, a clip board and a confident stride. It's not enough though. I want to see the whole thing, up close, and right here I can do just that. I can see everything, warts and all. The dead ends, the exciting ideas, the process that goes into creating these huge and wonderfully immersive worlds.

    I have a feeling I’m going to like it here.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Meeting minutes - January 3rd

    Drinks orders for the board:
    Edwin - Green Power Juice
    Rick – 4-shot latte
    Chad – 3-shot latte

    I've heard about Edwin, he's been here for a long time, came in from an old electronics company that made home computer kits you had to solder yourself back in the 80s. Apparently he took over the company from his father and has basically just sat on the board here until everyone else left or died. Talk about last man standing. He's only in his mid-forties, but all that sunshine and golf has really made the guy look like wealthy jerky in a suit that cost more than my university tuition. His Power Juice smells disgusting, and I genuinely can't imagine trying to put that stuff in my mouth.

    Rick and Chad could be twins, apart from the hair. I had to google company images to check which was which. I just need to remember Rick has brown hair, and Chad is the Blonde. The similarity is uncanny though. Two thirty-something gamer boys who made it to the top of the heap, to the seat of power. When they talk they almost blend together, a whirlwind of high power enthusiasm, go-getting and confidence. They also wear expensive suits, but paired with t-shirts. I love that look, professional, but you know it's for a more interesting industry than the stiffs in button down collars.

    When I handed out the coffees Chad seemed to bristle a little as I said what everyone had. He's changed his order for tomorrow to a five-shot latte.

    NOTE TO SELF - UPDATE THE DRINKS ORDER CHART

    Edwin sits quietly at one end of the table. It looks like he’s about ready to nap on the desk, although his eyes seem to sparkle a little when those huge dollar figures start being run out, and there's the faintest flicker of a smile. He seems less interested in being a part of the meeting than just physically being present. Maybe he’s just not a numbers guy, I’m sure he’s not just being paid to do nothing here, and hell, at this point, he probably doesn't even need to worry about the figures, just making the big decisions about where to steer this ship next.

    Looking through the figures for the last quarter - which are huge, I've never even thought about this much money before - was regularly punctuated with in-unison cries of “Niiiice” and the odd high five. I couldn't really tell what all of the paperwork meant, but there were a lot of graphs showing massive growth, and huge numbers of dollars, each more immense than the last. Either way, Chad was happy to see “numbers go up!” with Rick chiming in that “exponential growth is the only kind of growth that matters”. He told me to write that down; very important.

    I've not seen three boys act like that around paperwork since that time my cousins and I found a dirty magazine in the woods while we were out riding our bikes. Chuckling and cheering and looking so darned pleased with themselves.

    At this point in the meeting, the topic of conversation moved on to bonuses. No discussion was had of overall staff bonuses for the bulk of the development team; I'm guessing that must have happened before Christmas, after the last game shipped.

    Waiting for the new year’s financial results to sort their own bonuses rather than taking them when the rest of the staff did? Classy move. Apparently last year they "settled for... five mill each", but since "numbers did go up", Chad was proposing a double. The next few minutes were like watching a bizarre auction where they tried to outbid each other for their own worth. Batting numbers about that I've never even dreamed about before.

    At last they agreed on $15 million because "Executive bonuses suggest company health".

    $15 million.

    Fifteen. Million. Dollars.

    Each.

    If that's what they were looking at at the top, who knows what I'll be in line for next year. Heck, even 1% of that would be life changing.

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